Trapper Schoepp has befriended a strange and diverse cast of characters during his 20+ years. That small army of rogues and romantics, drifters and dreamers, soldiers and schemers populate his songs. He got attention with his critically-acclaimed 2012 debut showcase, Run Engine, Run, alongside his band The Shades. The LP earned notices in Rolling Stone, American Songwriter and Paste, with the folks at Huffington Post calling him a “master storyteller” and PBS hailing his work as "story songs that explore and explode the conventions of rock and roll." The Minnesota-born, Wisconsin-based tunesmith and teller of tales (both tall and true), returns with his second effort Rangers & Valentines.
On Rangers & Valentines, Schoepp defies the limitations of the standard-issue Americana platter, hopping genres – you’ll hear lots of brass, backing singers and B-3 — as the songs build to delirious musical highs. His narratives, meanwhile, find subjects in the narrow margins of society, the strange twists (literal and metaphorical) in the weather, and the vagaries of a troubadour’s transient life – with lyrics that flash a lacerating wit and humanist streak that’s at the core of his craft.
Produced by pop polymath and Raconteurs member Brendan Benson at his Readymade Studios in Nashville, the record finds Schoepp handling vocals, guitar and harmonica. He’s aided by an array of estimable musicians including his brother and musical-foil-since-birth Tanner Schoepp (providing bass guitar and vocal harmonies), Steve Selvidge (The Hold Steady), John Davis (Superdrag), the McCrary Sisters — even comedian and WTF podcaster Marc Maron chips in on background vocals and lead guitar.
Schoepp shines up the well-worn clichés of singer-songwriterdom and renders them anew. Evoking a series of vivid protagonists and settings (fittingly, each track will have its own accompanying video, solidifying the cinematic quality of this set) his work variously recalls prime Prine (John, that is), the nuances of Newman (Randy, of course), the boozy bonhomie of The Replacements, and the unflinching language of someone well-versed in the Zevonian dialect. Having released his debut on SideOneDummy, Rangers & Valentines is being put out by London-based Xtra Mile Recordings. Hipped to Schoepp’s work by fellow singer-songwriter Frank Turner, among others, Xtra Mile honcho Charlie Caplowe quickly signed him to the label.